Once you’ve narrowed down a shortlist of properties to rent, the logical step is to schedule a viewing. Remember, what you see on screen is not always what you get. When inspecting a property for rent, be honest with your needs, wants and feedback. Naturally, you will only feel comfortable being honest with someone you trust. This is why working with an experienced and trustworthy broker can simplify your experience, particularly in ensuring your requirements are aligned with the properties you are viewing.
Attending property viewings can be time consuming, so you want to make sure you are using your time wisely and come armed with the right questions to ask. Sometimes, there may be some give and take with what the market can offer. A skilled broker will set your expectations, and advise where, why and how you can find the best home on the market to match your needs.
When to schedule a viewing
Timing is of the essence for a seamless property transaction. Remember, the landlord will only negotiate the best annual rental amount and terms when they see commitment and a serious offer on the table. Ideally, landlords aim to have their property tenanted within one to two months of it becoming vacant, in the event that a tenant is not sourced prior to the exit of the last. With this in mind, it is important to note that if you start your viewing process too early, the properties you see today may not be available in the market in a few months. Be sure of your timeline to move before you pick up the phone to schedule a viewing, so to not waste any parties time.
If you don’t manage to get through to the property agent on your first call or email during, Property Finder offers the option WhatsApp for a large majority of listings. This helps you contact an agent in real time to get your foot in the door of the property as soon as possible.
Verify property details
When placing the initial call to the property agent, it is important to remember that this call is also your opportunity to verify the property is still available, and validate all details advertised, such as the annual rent, number of cheques and security deposit. Have a pen and paper handy to note down any important points.
Extra questions to ask…
Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions that may not be mentioned in the listing. For example:
- What floor the apartment is on or what street the villa is on;
- Are there any views from the property;
- What is the parking situation;
- Is the property is pet-friendly, and if so is a pet fee levied;
- What was the last tenants reason for leaving?
- How long has the property been on the market for?
Of course, you can get these answered upon viewing the property, but if the response to one of the above questions is a deal breaker from the outset, you can save the time taken to complete an inspection. Alternatively, if you are satisfied with the information you can proceed to organise a viewing.
At this stage, you should also confirm whether the meeting point is at the agents office or at the property, as well as whether the property will be shown by the agent or the individual seller.
- Schedule your viewing during the day so you have a clear picture of what the property looks like in daylight, as well as the natural light the property attracts. Also, some vacant properties don’t have electricity connected.
- Take your own photos so you can refer back to these in your decision making process. Often, you may be viewing multiple properties at once. Having your own photos to look back on will ensure your memory of finer details is clear.
- Check the reception in the building or property
- Test for any plumbing defects; run the taps and shower to test the water pressure or spot any significant leakage, and flush the toilets.
- Open cupboards and wardrobes; is there enough storage space for your belongings?
- Listen out for surrounding noise; is there significant noise from traffic or trams? Can you hear your nextdoor neighbours?
- Inspect your car space and understand the parking situation. Do you have one or two assigned spaces? Standard practice is tenants who rent a studio to 1-bedroom apartment will receive a single parking space, and over 2-bedrooms receive 2 parking spaces. However, in some densely populated communities, tenants may only get one parking space per apartment, irrespective of size, due to limited availability.
- Look out for security in the building or surrounding the premises. Is there a security team? Are there CCTV cameras?
- Is the property pet-friendly? This question should be asked very early in negotiations.
- Check for pest problems like bugs and rodents
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Surroundings, amenities and facilities
- Research travel time; understand the commute times from the property to your workplace or children’s school. You may want to do a test drive for yourself, using your GPS to track the trip.
- Evaluate traffic in the area; particularly during rush hour. The property may be advertised as ‘10 minutes away’, but with congestion it may be in excess of this.
- Assess proximity to important facilities; how close are schools, nurseries and supermarkets? How close are other amenities such as sports facilities, gyms, swimming pools, public transport links?
- Understand surrounding noise; research about the area to find what’s closeby. For example, if there is a hospital next to the property, you may hear sirens. If there is a school nearby, you may hear bells during the day. Is there construction in the area? If so, how long is it likely to continue?
- Check the community at different times of the day; the area or building can look different by day and night. Viewing the property at both times of day will give insight to any significant lifestyle changes.
- Examine external features such as gardens and open spaces to check how they have been maintained. Find out whether the landlord is in charge of upkeep, if the responsibility is yours, what kind of maintenance is required. You can ask if you can modify or add your own personal touch to the garden. Or, if you see something like a garden shed filled with junk, that it be cleared before you move in.
- Inspect the entire parking situation; you may have an individual parking bay, but what is the street parking like should you need to use it? Are there any challenges with parking in the area?
Interiors and quality of furnishings
- Scan each bedroom size to confirm the property is as advertised, as photos can be deceiving. For apartments, layout can differ with regards to square footage.
- Further inspect layout as features such as an open or closed kitchen, separate dining area, or balcony can also influence perceived property size.
- Check for storage such as built-in wardrobes as well as pantry or laundry space, or external storage units.
- Assess white goods such as fridges, dishwashers, ovens, washing machines, microwaves and cooking hubs. Test all appliances to ensure they are in fully functional, working condition. It is also a good idea to understand the repair process.
Security and community rules
- Assess the quality of security in the area; gated communities should have 24-hour security. Ensure this is in place and whether there are daily security patrols in the area. Some communities may require an access card to grant entry. In apartment buildings, check for a 24-hour concierge and security service, whether the elevators need key codes and, if there are 24-hour CCTV cameras.
Overall property condition
- Note all defects and take photos; have the agent or landlord sign off on acknowledgement of these. Significant repairs are the landlords legal obligation to rectify, and any additional maintenance required due to the defect should be clearly stated in the tenancy agreement.
- Plumbing defects; raise any defects before signing your contract and have the property maintenance terms agreed upon and stated. Ideally, you should have any issues rectified before you move in.
- Request a repaint and refresh; ask the landlord to repaint the walls, steam-clean carpets or furniture (in the case of a furnished property). Also request a full clean, including white goods. You should request that all works be completed before you pay your security deposit; a serious landlord will oblige.
- Check no security features require repair; such as CCTV cameras, deadlocks or window locks.
- Review the latest pest control invoice; to be absolutely certain there are no pre-existing instances of bugs and rodents.
It can be challenging to thoroughly inspect a property within a short time frame. That’s why it pays to be prepared with checklists to spot red flags or deal breakers. Remember, if you require further clarity on anything you spotted during the inspection, you can reach out to the agent, or even schedule a follow up inspection for peace of mind.
If the property ticks all the right boxes, here is a list of the necessary documents you should have on hand to proceed to application and seal the deal:
- Passport copy
- Residence Visa copy
- Emirates ID copy
- Security deposit; typically 5% of the rental amount for unfurnished, or 10% for furnished
- Agency fee; typically 5% of the rental amount
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